With a second pandemic winter approaching, there are promising signs that the worst of the delta surge has run its course, but in America's hospitals — already short-staffed and backlogged from the summer torrent of COVID-19 — the relief may only be short-lived.
Many are staring down a tough stretch of colder months with the threat of a potentially bad influenza season, an influx of patients trying to catch up on delayed care and a depleted workforce that's had little time — if any — to regroup from this latest wave of coronavirus infections.
"It's like a perfect storm, right? High volume, high acuity and low staff," says emergency physician Dr. Gregg Miller, who's chief medical officer for the health care staffing group Vituity. "Winters are already tough for hospitals and emergency departments."